Everyday Green Smoothie

Photo credit: Carolyn Vinnicombe


It’s no surprise that smoothies are such a health food staple. They’re the perfect combination of easy-to-digest fruits with dark leafy greens, which everyone knows are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. They leave you feeling full, clear-headed and energized, which means that they’re really great for breakfast. Eating a heavy breakfast (like oatmeal) in the spring or summer will make some people feel heavy and sleepy, which is exactly what you don’t need before a big day of work or a Saturday on the trail.

Carolyn’s everyday green smoothie recipe is super-tasty, easy to prepare, and is filling enough to get you all the way through the morning. It’s sweet, creamy, and has a little bit of bite thanks to the addition of ginger, which warms up the digestive system and makes it even easier to absorb and assimilate.

Everyday Green Smoothie

Photo credit: Carolyn Vinnicombe

Easy Everyday Green Smoothie

I really hope you enjoy our Easy Everyday Green smoothie recipe, excerpted from Carolyn’s Pantry and perfect for anyone who wants a high-energy, easy-to-digest breakfast that’s sure to put a little extra spring in your step.

As far as preparation goes, this recipe is as easy as it gets. Just throw everything together in a blender and viola, it’s done! If you’d like to get a few extra calories, feel free to throw some granola or nuts/seeds on top. Just be careful, as not everyone digests nuts/seeds and fruit very well when combined.

Preparation time is around 5 minutes and this recipe will make one big smoothie. If you don’t want to finish it all in one sitting, feel free to refrigerate what’s left for later. To avoid the fiber separating from the water/nut milk, it’s best to drink your green smoothie on the same day you make it.

This is the perfect time of year to start incorporating lighter, more energizing foods back into your diet. Thanks to Carolyn for sharing this recipe!

Easy Everyday Green Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten-Free)


  • 1 banana
  • 1 large handful fresh green kale
  • 1 large handful fresh baby spinach
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh organic ginger (peeled)
  • Toppings
  • Granola
  • Fresh blueberries
  • A sprinkle of hemp seeds


  1. Blend everything up and serve!

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Spring-Cleansing Turmeric Vegetable Soup

Spring-Cleansing Turmeric Vegetable Soup

Many of us choose to eat a plant-based diet out of compassion and respect for animals, but choosing to fill our plates with fresh fruits and vegetables does more than just protect the natural environment and the animals who call it home. Even if it’s not our primary motivation, eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet has been proven to be a powerful aid in preventing and reversing chronic disease. Each time we sit down to eat in a way that supports the health of the planet, we support our own health in the process.

Eating a diet that’s centered around plants has a natural healing and cleansing effect on the body, especially as we introduce more raw foods, but many of us feel called to take a more active approach in our cleansing and detoxifying process. And now just happens to be the perfect time to do that!

As we move into spring, the days are getting longer and the temperatures are getting warmer. Life is reawakening all over the planet and we start to feel a shift in our own bodies and minds. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is thought that the cycles and rhythms of the human body are closely intertwined with nature. During the cold, winter months, our bodies gravitate towards semi-hibernation. We slow down, crave heavier, more comforting foods, and spend more time in leisurely activities like reading and watching movies.

In the spring, as new life emerges and regenerates itself, we feel naturally drawn towards being more active, spending more time outdoors, and eating lighter, more energizing foods. This presents a great opportunity to shed a little excess weight and clean out the toxins that have been accumulated and stored over the course of our winter dormancy.

Spring-Cleansing Turmeric Vegetable Soup

Photo credit: Ingrid DeHart

We recently found a recipe on the Eat Well, Enjoy Life blog that we thought would be perfect for early spring when we’re slowly waking from our winter slumber. It’s a recipe that’s hearty and fulfilling, but light and full of detoxifying ingredients at the same time.

Ingrid DeHart’s vegetable turmeric soup is full of flavorful ingredients and healing spices that will please your palate and give your digestive system the boost it needs to cleanse from the inside out. The turmeric fights inflammation and reduces gas and bloating, while the ginger and garlic stimulate the digestive tract to shed excess mucous and re-balance the intestinal wall. The other ingredients in this recipe, like coconut oil, carrots and kale all have well-known health benefits and healing properties of their own.

No special tools or kitchen skills are required to make this warming, healing soup. Just a knife, a cutting board and a pot to throw everything together in will suffice. If you’re looking to shed a few excess pounds or just want a little more spring in your step as we move into spring, we hope you’ll give our spring-cleansing vegetable turmeric soup a try!

Preparation time is around 20 minutes and the soup will take an additional 30 minutes to cook. One big pot will easily serve a family of 4. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

Note: You could alter this recipe in a number of ways. We love the combination of flavors that Ingrid has created in this recipe, but the vegetables used are merely suggestions. Feel free to use whatever you have lying around the house or really love. The ginger and garlic do most of the cleansing work in this recipe, but if you’re choosing to avoid hot, stimulating spices and herbs, feel free to omit them. Turmeric is incredibly purifying on it’s own. For those eating a paleo diet, feel free to omit the beans.

This is the perfect time of year to start incorporating lighter, more cleansing foods back into your diet. Thanks to Ingrid DeHart and Eat Well, Enjoy Life for sharing this recipe!

Spring-cleansing Vegetable Turmeric Soup (Vegan, Gluten-free)


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric root or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced (3-4 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ of 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed or 1/2 cup of dried white beans, cooked (optional)
  • Cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium-low.
  2. Add onion and stir. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the onions begin to brown.
  3. Add carrots and celery, cook for 3-5 more minutes, until the vegetables soften.
  4. Add turmeric, garlic and ginger; stir until the vegetables are coated.
  5. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  6. Add broth or water, salt, and pepper; stir. Bring to a boil.
  7. Add cauliflower. Cover and reduce heat.
  8. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.
  9. When the cauliflower is fork tender, add beans and kale.
  10. Cook until the kale is slightly wilted, 2-3 minutes.
  11. Serve hot garnished with cilantro.

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Brooklyn Barley Stew

Brooklyn Barley Stew

Have you ever experienced recipe overload in trying to find something to make for dinner? Thanks to the internet, we live in a world where thousands upon thousands of recipes are available at our finger tips at all times, but how can you separate the wheat from the chaff? If you’re new to the plant-based diet, how can you be sure that that hodgepodge of strange-sounding ingredients is actually going to taste good when mixed together?

In their new book, The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook, top-ten vegetarian author Victoria Mann and pressure-cooking extraordinaire JL Fields have teamed up with with over a hundred certified vegan lifestyle coaches to share 100 of their favorite plant-based recipes. Regardless of whether you’re a long time vegetarian/vegan or just dipping your toes in the world of plant-based eating, The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook is a great place to put your recipe search to rest.

In addition to 100+ recipes, Victoria and JL’s new book offers practical advice on the following topics:

  • Dubunking the myth of plant-based eating being expensive, complicated and weird.
  • How to pave your own path to health.
  • Troubleshooting and FAQ’s on vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • Menu plans that will keep you inspired and innovating in the kitchen.

To celebrate the launch of their new book, Victoria and JL sent us a recipe to share that we think is perfect for soothing the soul when you’ve got a case of mid-winter blues. Check out the recipe below and let us know what you think!

Brooklyn Barley Stew

Makes: 6-8 servings

Brooklyn Barley Stew

Photo credit: The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook

Created by Victoria Moran and JL Fields, this warming and hearty barley stew recipe is a perfect for deep winter nights when you’re in the mood for something soothing and nutritious. There are few things more comforting than a big bowl of steaming-hot stew, especially when it doesn’t take hours to prepare. You really can feel your body relax and mind slow down with each and every bite.

With this recipe, a few simple ingredients combine to make a healthy, plant-based stew that is packed with flavor. This delicious make-ahead dish only gets better as it sits, so fix it today and eat it tomorrow or save some leftovers…if you can help not gobbling it all down at once. 

A few notes: Traditional stew vegetables were used for this recipe, but feel free to substitute with whatever you like and/or have lying around the house. One of the great things about soup and stew is that you really can make substitutions to your hearts content and still get great results. Additionally, for those who are avoiding gluten, you can substitute rice, garbanzo beans or even quinoa for the barley and it’s equally as delicious.

One-pot Brooklyn Barley Stew (Vegan, Gluten-Free Options)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup pearl barley (substitute rice, garbanzo beans or quinoa for those who are gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 plant-based bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon plant-based bouillon powder
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
  • Salt (optional)


  1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and soft, about 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat with oil. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are starting to brown.
  2. Add the barley and stir to combine. Stir in the wine, if using, and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the carrots. Pour in the broth and raise the heat to high. Add the bouillon and stir until it is dissolved. Cover the pot and bring the broth to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
  3. When the barley is tender, stir in the kale. It will look like a lot, but as you stir it in, it will wilt down. Taste and add salt if needed.

Enter To Win A Free Copy of The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook

Victoria and JL have been kind enough to provide a copy of The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook to our community, and you can enter to win!

We’ll choose a winner by random drawing on February 14th, 2018.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Sign up for the email list using the form below. If you are already subscribed, you do NOT have to subscribe again.
  2. Leave a comment below letting us know the following: What is one small change you make to start improving your health? What’s the biggest barrier that prevents you from following through?

*Note: Giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada. From The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook by Victoria Moran and JL Fields; recipe by Michael Suchman (BenBella Books, 2017).


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The holiday season is upon us again and with that comes a rush of family and activity. These are all great things, and many of us look forward to the flurry of preparations and celebration all year long,  but the holidays can also leave us with little to no time to get in the kitchen and prepare healthy meals for ourselves. Even the most disciplined and dedicated health-warriors among us are often left wanting come late-December.  Not only do we not have the time to prepare healthy meals, we barely have enough time to go to the grocery store!

And so the question is: how can we create nourishing, flavorful meals for ourselves and our loved ones with little to no free time and with only a few odd-and-end ingredients lying around the kitchen?

We recently found a recipe on the One Ingredient Chef blog that we thought would be perfect for busy times when simple meals are in dire need. With this recipe, your slow-cooker does most all of the work for you, giving you the freedom to focus your attention where it’s most needed.

And just because this dish takes so little time to put together doesn’t mean that you’ll have to sacrifice on taste. Slow-cookers are great for melding flavors together over the course of several hours, tricking your palate into thinking that much more time and effort went into the meal than what it did.


Photo credit: Andrew Olsen

If you’ve never used a slow cooker before or you don’t have one, you can get the same results just by putting all of your ingredients together and cooking them slowly over low heat. There’s actually a lot of different ways ratatouille can be made, but all of them involve thinly slicing squash, peppers, onions, and usually eggplant into thin rounds and lining them around a pan with with whatever herbs you have in the kitchen.

In the end, no matter which cooking method you choose, I think you’ll find that our one-pot ratatouille recipe is perfect for times when life gets hectic and packaged, instant meals tend to sneak their way in. If you’re craving something warm and hearty during the holiday season, have just a few leftover veggies lying around and aren’t sure what to do with them, we hope you’ll give our ratatouille recipe a try!


Photo credit: Andrew Olsen

Preparation time is around 15 to 20 minutes and this recipe will easily serve a family of 4. Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

Note: You could alter this recipe in a number of ways. We omitted eggplant, but you could easily layer in some of that as well. You can use your favorite prepared marinara pasta sauce or make some from scratch if you are feeling adventurous. Italian herbs like thyme and tarragon would work really well with this recipe too.

This is the perfect time of year to break out your slow cooker and create flavorful dishes even if you’re short on time. Thanks to Andrew Olsen and Creative Commons at One Ingredient Chef for sharing this recipe!

Easy Potato Ratatouille (Vegan, Gluten-Free)


  • 3 cups marinara sauce (any kind)
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini
  • 2 yellow crookneck squash
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Basil, for garnish
  • Ground cashews, for garnish


  1. Wash and slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash, red bell peppers, and red onion into thin rounds (1/8-inch or thinner). If you have a mandolin, that makes things much easier but you can also do it by hand. Also mince a few cloves of garlic and set aside.
  2. Pour one cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom of your slow cooker, then (the hardest part) overlap the veggies and potatoes in a circular pattern around the edges (and fill in the middle) until you’ve used them all. Stop after each row and add a dash of salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Note: you may not want to use full slices of onion on each level, feel free to use just 1-2 rings each time you layer the onions.
  3. Pour about 2 cups more sauce on top (it will slowly trickle down as it cooks) and slow-cook on high for about 3-4 hours until the potatoes are tender. To serve, garnish with some fresh basil and/or vegan “parmesan” which can be made by blending cashews (plus nutritional yeast and salt, if you’d like) in a high-powered blender until they’re pulverized.



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Smoothie bowl

Many of our readers write-in to say that they have trouble getting their kids interested in eating plant-based foods on a regular basis. I don’t have kids of my own, but I can totally sympathize with the challenge. How can we get kids excited about healthy, organic, plant-based foods when they’re surrounded by endless quantities of junk food and advertisements that encourage them to eat them?

We recently found a recipe on the Fork and Beans blog that we thought would be perfect for introducing more plant-based foods into your child’s everyday diet. With her inventive smoothie bowls, Cara Ansis hits the nail on the head when it comes to creating food for kids that’s both tasty and fun, while also ensuring that they’re meeting their daily nutritional needs.

Photo credit: Cara Ansis

Smoothie bowls are jam-packed with an abundance of fresh fruits and are often accompanied by plant-based yogurt and plant-based milk, which you can either pick up from your local natural foods store or make on your own if you have the right kitchen tools.

If you’ve never made a smoothie bowl, this recipe may look a little intimidating. However, being that prep time is only a few minutes from beginning to end, just about everyone will have the time to quickly put one together, even as a last minute snack when the kids are hungry and reaching for something unhealthy. It’s really as simple as blending together a few ingredients, spooning the blended mixture into a couple of bowls, and putting some fresh fruit on top.

The next time you’re left wondering what to make for your kids who don’t seem to eat anything you make, we hope you’ll give our smoothie bowls a try! They’re delicious enough that you may just want to make one for yourself!

Photo credit: Cara Ansis

Preparation time is 15 minutes and this recipe serves 2.

Per Cara’s recipe, you can get super-creative with this recipe and turn your smoothie bowls into creative designs like animals, rainbows, or even flowers! Using fresh fruit, the possibilities are truly endless.

Smoothie bowls are safe for kids who have allergies to nuts, soy or grains so long as you choose plant-based dairy products that don’t contain them (there are some great plant-based milks out there that are made from pea protein).

We hope you and your kids will enjoy these awesome smoothie bowls, courtesy of Cara Ansis of Fork and Beans! Click here to see the full recipe on the Fork and Beans blog.


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Stop Shaming

Stop ShamingOver time, I’ve become better and better at navigating social situations while making food choices that align with my values. I get better at the dance of going out to eat with friends, going to parties, and traveling while enjoying myself without falling off track or feeling like an outsider.

But last week I was at a conference in Baltimore for my work as a web developer, and the food issue was especially challenging. Take a look at this group text from last week as our team was deciding where to eat.

Two things to consider:

  1. I mentioned that I was going to slip away to a vegan, soul food restaurant I had heard about, but didn’t mean to suggest that the whole group should go (someone else texted that to the group).
  2. I’m close friends with the guy who sent this text and talk openly about these things with him. I didn’t take it personally, as the text might suggest.

But still, it’s a good representation of the kind of social pressures that many of us have to deal with on a nearly constant basis.

The more I look, the more I see this kind of health shaming everywhere

And it’s not just limited to conversations between friends and family. Blatant examples of health shaming can be found in the media and in pop culture at large.

As an example, take a look at this article about a new juicer that has been making headlines recently, entitled,“As Juicero gets publicly shamed, let us not forget that juice itself is a lie.

This quote, taken from the article, is especially troubling:

“Juice is one of the pillars of the modern wellness movement, right up there with yoga, healing crystals, Korean sheet masks, and whatever else Goop is hawking this week. And wellness is the ultimate 21st-century status symbol. Forget about designer labels and expensive vacations. There’s nothing more difficult to attain, or more enviable, than a natural glow from within. To that point, whether we’re forking over $400 for a Silicon Valley-approved juicer or $10 for a local shop’s kale-ginger-cucumber-apple blend, we’re not just paying for puréed produce. We’re buying into a vision of ourselves at our radiant, virtuous, energized best. Buying cold-pressed juice has always been a way to signal to ourselves, and the world, that we’re enlightened enough to prioritize our health—and financially secure enough to invest in it.”

There is no doubt that wellness services and products are largely available only to those of a certain socio-economic class. We need to do more to make healthful food available and affordable to everyone.

And as wellness has become trendier, it HAS become a certain kind of status symbol. But frankly, I find it seriously awesome that people may be more interested in buying organic produce, taking a yoga or meditation class, or sipping a green juice instead of buying hummers and huge houses.

TV shows love to make fun of plant-based eaters and talk about how gross raw food is. Journalists love to publish stories about how there isn’t any evidence to support claims made about the benefits of supplements and detoxification.

I’m not saying that we should ignore the science. It is true that certain supplements can do more harm than good. We need to do our due diligence by consulting with qualified medical professionals and pay close attention to the data being released by independent quality-control companies like Labdoor that test supplements for their safety and purity.

There may not be many scientific studies that show how certain foods aid in the detoxification process, but I’ve personally been witness to some incredible health transformations over the years. When I worked at the Tree of Life, many of the guests arriving with Type 2 diabetes were off all medication and had a normal fasting blood sugar level by the time they left – and that was after just three weeks on a plant-based, low-glycemic diet.

I don’t know if they were “detoxing” or not, but I can tell you that they made life-changing improvements to their health and well-being.

I’ve been doing a lot of outreach for our new, big project lately, fueled by some truly shocking facts.

According to the CDC, 7 out of 10 people in the US die from chronic diseases that are largely preventable.1

1 out of 4 people continue to die from heart disease.2 As many as 1 in 3 adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue.3 More than 2 out of 3 Americans are considered overweight or obese.4 These chronic conditions are epidemic.

Yet we already have a solution to this crisis.

Through diet and lifestyle changes alone, we can reduce heart disease by 90%5,6, type 2 diabetes by 92%7, stroke by 80%8 and cancer risk by up to 60%9. In 2013, Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the United States, noted that despite the strong body of evidence in support of a plant-based diet as a first-line treatment for chronic disease, physicians often ignore the facts in favor of quickly prescribing medications. The medical community is not giving patients a chance to manage their disease through healthy eating and active living.10

The hard truth is that so many of our loved-ones will experience a significant decline in their quality of life and eventually die, in part, because of what they choose to eat.

As Americans, we pay more for health care than other nations and yet as much as 86% of our healthcare costs could be avoided through simple changes in diet and lifestyle.1

And for that reason, I’m super-grateful for the fact that people have discovered juicing and yoga, even if it has become a trendy status symbol. I don’t give a damn what’s motivating people to eat more veggies, when just 2.5 servings per day can reduce early mortality by over 13%.11

The Real Cost of Health Shaming

The Standard American Diet is literally killing us, has a huge environmental impact and costs us over a trillion dollars each year in medical bills. It’s making the people that we love sick.

This is too important for me to not speak up. This isn’t a trend. This is a movement that must grow, because we have no other option than to radically change our current food culture if we want to live happy, healthy lives and do better for our planet.

So how about we stop shaming people who choose to buy $10 juices, and instead focus on making real, organic, plant-based food more available to everyone, regardless of their socio-economic status.

Let’s stop making fun of people who are gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo or whatever else they are because they choose to take on the difficult task of standing in opposition to the cultural norm in order to create better health for themselves and their families.

Let’s stop fighting about what diet is best, and celebrate each and every small victory that moves people towards eating more veggies and less processed food.

We need to shift the cultural conversation and stop alienating those of us who have the courage to make personal changes in a society that continues to marginalize and shame them. You might feel like an outsider in your community, but our movement is growing. Our strength and numbers are growing. We are in this together, and the more that we create acceptance, the more the tides will turn.


  1. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Chronic Disease Overview.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Feb. 2016. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
  2. CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed Feb. 3, 2015.
  3. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Number of Americans with Diabetes Projected to Double or Triple by 2050.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Oct. 2010. Web. 03 May 2017.
  4. “Overweight & Obesity Statistics.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 03 May 2017.
  5. Chiuve, S. E., M. L. McCullough, F. M. Sacks, and E. B. Rimm. “Healthy Lifestyle Factors in the Primary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease among Men: Benefits among Users and Nonusers of Lipid-lowering and Antihypertensive Medications.” Circulation. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 11 July 2006. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
  6. Akesson, A., C. Weismayer, P. K. Newby, and A. Wolk. “Combined Effect of Low-risk Dietary and Lifestyle Behaviors in Primary Prevention of Myocardial Infarction in Women.”Archives of Internal Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Oct. 2007. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
  7. Hu, F. B., J. E. Manson, M. J. Stampfer, G. Colditz, S. Liu, C. G. Solomon, and W. C. Willett. “Diet, Lifestyle, and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Women.” The New England Journal of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Sept. 2001. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.
  8. Chiuve, Stephanie E., Kathryn M. Rexrode, Donna Spiegelman, Giancarlo Logroscino, JoAnn E. Manson, and Eric B. Rimm. “Primary Prevention of Stroke by Healthy Lifestyle.”Circulation. American Heart Association, Inc., 26 Aug. 2008. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
  9. Katz, David L. “Facing The Facelessness Of Public Health: What’s The Public Got To Do With It?”. American Journal of Health Promotion 25.6 (2011): p361. Print.
  10. Tuso, Philip. “Nutritional Update For Physicians: Plant-Based Diets”. The Permanente Journal 17.2 (2013): 61-66. Web.
  11. Boseley, Sarah. “Forget Five a Day, Eat 10 Portions of Fruit and Veg to Cut Risk of Early Death.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

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Photo credit: Giuseppe Chirico

I am a master at justifying my bad habits.

Like when it’s 10pm and I really don’t need to be eating a bowl of coconut bliss ice cream.

Give me 30 seconds and I can convince myself that it’s been a tough week and I’ve earned this small reward — after all, there are much worse things I could be eating.

Or that it’s really no big deal because it only has 13 grams of sugar per serving.

Or that I haven’t had any sweets at all for nearly two weeks, and I had a super healthy lunch. Surely a little ice cream before bed can’t hurt.

Any of this sound familiar?

It’s amazing how, in an instant, we can talk ourselves out of our big picture goals — what we TRULY want for our lives, for a few seconds of pleasure that we’ll instantly regret.

Yes we want to lose weight, to be healthy, to look and feel our best and be an example of health for our loved ones.

But in the moment, we decide that we’d rather have the ice cream!

Instead of saying no, instead of taking a stand for our radiant health and our goal weight, we take a step in the other direction, promising to do better tomorrow.

Now, I’m a big fan of the “crowding-out” strategy.

The idea is that you focus on adding good habits and good foods to your life. These good choices eventually “crowd-out” the bad and the bad falls away on its own.

But sometimes crowding out isn’t enough. Sometimes we get stuck and it becomes clear that there is a craving or habit that is standing in our way that we must let go of.

Especially when months or years pass and we still aren’t making progress.

How can we breakthrough so that in 3 or 6 months we can look back and see how far we have come?

How can we begin to make real progress towards our goals?

At a certain point, true transformation means you have to get serious. You have to make a commitment to yourself and stick to it. You have to learn how to say no.

But what we sometimes miss is that saying no is also something that we can learn. It is something that we can practice.

If it’s time for you to take the next step to take your health, weight-loss and well-being to the next level, here’s how to get started.

1) Draw a bright line

One of the most effective ways to create change is to make a single rule and commit to it 100%. Start with a meaningful commitment, but something that doesn’t terrify you.

For example you might commit to attending a single party without eating anything with sugar, a week of eating 100% vegan, no animal products, or a month of starting each day with a green smoothie.

This is called drawing a bright line — making a clearly defined rule that comes with a 100% commitment.

Yes, we all love freedom. Believe me, the last thing I want to do is to make a 100% commitment to never enjoying my favorite chocolate treat ever again. In fact, the idea of letting go of something forever can prevent us from ever getting started (more on that on the next point.)

But drawing a bright line removes the in-the-moment decision of whether you are going to make a good choice or a bad choice. It removes that possibility of justification.

As we’ve already covered, and I’m sure you’ve seen in your own life, we are all masters at justifying the choices we make that are not in our best interest.

Trick the justifier. Get the upper hand on your psychology. Draw a bright line.

2) Set a start and end date

Bright lines work best when you set both a start date and an end date.

A start date also helps you to formalize the commitment. It allows you to prepare yourself mentally and makes it more likely that the commitment will stick.

Most of us make 100% commitments after a particularly brutal fall off the wagon, but it becomes all too easy to throw that commitment out of the window when presented with the temptation again.

Give yourself at least a couple days to let the commitment marinate. Mondays, the first of the month or the new moon are also good dates to pick.

Setting an end date, on the other hand, removes the fear that you are never going to be able to enjoy a (insert your favorite vice here) ever again.

Again, make the commitment meaningful but not terrifying. A week or a month is a good length of time to start with.

Finally, mark both the start date and the end date in your calendar. If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.

3) Start with one thing at a time

Making big change is awesome.

I love it when people go 100% plant-based, or quit sugar cold turkey. When you make a drastic change, it doesn’t take long to experience the benefits, and getting quick results is a powerful motivator to keep you moving forward.

But making big changes that last is difficult for most of us. If your personality is better suited to making small changes or you’ve tried to make big changes before that haven’t stuck, then taking a step-by-step is the way to go.

The behavior change literature supports small steps as the more effective way to make life-changes that are sustainable.

Again it really comes down to knowing yourself and your personality, but I recommend making just one single commitment at a time.

Pick something realistic that you know you can accomplish. Engineer a win for yourself. A small success now can cascade into bigger wins down the line.

4) Eliminate decisions

Bright lines work so well because they eliminate the in-the-moment decision of will we stay on track or will we indulge?

If you haven’t drawn a bright line then every time you are faced with temptation you have to make that choice.

Do we decide to grab the candy when it’s there? Do we order the healthy option at a restaurant or the old favorite? Do we give in to that afternoon sugar craving?

Long-term success on any diet or health plan really comes down to consistently winning these small daily battles.

If you have to make this decision every time you place an order at your favorite restaurant, or every time you walk past the candy bowl at the office, it is almost guaranteed that eventually you will give in.

The amazing power of bright lines is that eventually the decision becomes automatic. Once saying no becomes habitual you no longer even consider reaching for the candy bowl.

The golden rule here is to make your decisions in advance, and eliminate as many decisions as possible.

For example, try planning your meals and snacks the day before, or deciding what you’ll order at the restaurant before you go.

5) Practice accountability

Let’s get real. Nobody wants to be held accountable, because deep down we don’t want to give up our indiscretions.

As much as I want to put my health first, I don’t want to have to give up my afternoon Miracle Tart. And when I’m sneaking my afternoon chocolate, I surely don’t want anybody looking over my shoulder!

That’s why accountability is so often talked about, but so rarely put into practice.

But in the same way that we can begin to practice saying no, we can also begin to practice accountability.

When you draw your bright line, make the commitment to mention it to someone. Make your commitment public in whatever way pushes you out of your comfort zone just a little bit.

You can ask your friend or significant other to help you keep the commitment or post it on facebook.

Just take that small step to let someone else know what you’ve committed to.

Do this now

You can get started right away. Decide on your commitment, pick a start date and an end date and mark it on your calendar.

There will never a perfect time to get started. There will always be something coming up or some excuse about why this can wait another week.

But I care most about what is best for you. Honor yourself enough to make this top priority. Care about yourself enough to set a higher standard. This is game time.

Let us know your commitment and start and end date in the comments below, and we’ll follow up and help hold you accountable.

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How To Succeed On A Plant-Based Diet With Lindsay S. Nixon Of Happy Herbivore

How To Succeed On A Plant-Based Diet With Lindsay S. Nixon Of Happy Herbivore

I’ve never been much of a chef. So it drives me crazy when someone says something like, “oh, just taste it and see what it needs.”

I flashback to spending all this time in the kitchen trying to fix a sauce that wasn’t turning out.

Here’s what “just see what it needs” looked like to me:

  • I’d add a little more lemon juice. Blend. Taste. Hmm, that didn’t help much.
  • So then I’d pick a random spice out of the drawer, smell it, taste it, add it. Blend again. Taste. Hmm, that’s actually a little bit better!
  • Then I’d add another teaspoon of the spice that was helping. Blend. Taste. OH NO, THIS TASTES AWFUL! HOW DO I FIX IT?
  • Start the randomly adding and tasting procedure over again.

Ah the joy of learning how to cook! Eventually I did get better, but I still lack that innate skill that others have.

And it’s funny because when you become proficient at something, you totally forget what it was like to be a beginner.

There is an actual term for this phenomenon — psychologists call it the Curse of Knowledge.

It basically means that once you learn the ropes, you lose touch with what it was like to be a novice starting from scratch. It becomes difficult to relate.

I think this is one of the reasons why so much of the health advice out there doesn’t hit home. The experts have totally forgotten what it’s like when you are just starting out!

I recently had the opportunity to interview Lindsay Nixon of Happy Herbivore fame, and she talked about the process of helping her parents go plant-based.

She said it was eye-opening to see just what it meant to completely revamp your diet at 60, and she was able to gain a whole new perspective and appreciation for what it truly means to be a beginner.

I still remember what it was like having no idea what I was going to eat, shopping for ingredients that I had never heard of, trying to figure out if I was indeed going to spend $20 on this strange substance in a jar called “coconut oil.”

And is it any different than coconut butter?!?! I’m still not sure…

Luckily, there are more resources than ever to make transitioning to a plant-based diet as easy as possible.

And today I’m thrilled to share my interview with Lindsay, where we discuss the joys, trials and travails of our plant-based journeys, and her latest book The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living.

Watch the interview and learn:

  • (1:47) The best way to transition to a plant-based diet and why this method is more successful.
  • (6:57) The strange reason why trying to be perfect can often sabotage our progress.
  • (21:07) How Lindsay convinced her parents to go plant-based after her Dad had a heart attack.
  • (24:11) The one book that Lindsay reads every New Years Day, and why it has been so life-changing.
  • (28:58) The surprising side effect of creating and following meal plans, and how they can change your relationship with food.

If you like this video, please subscribe to our youtube channel!

Show notes:

The Happy Herbivore Guide To Plant-Based Living

Lindsay has gained some serious wisdom over the past several years, helping hundreds if not thousands of people transition to a plant-based diet.

Her guide is the resource that I wish I had as a beginner. Heck, I might even have avoided all those painful (and pretty ridiculous) mistakes I made along the way!

I joke that she has put together the bible on plant-based living. I highly recommend it, especially if you are just starting out on your plant-based journey.

She covers all the common questions on nutrition, how to transition, traveling, etc.

But my favorite aspect of the book is the focus on how to deal with social situations. She has extremely helpful advice on how to attend or host dinner parties, what to do when your friends ask you out to eat, and what to do if your family and friends are unsupportive.

The social aspect continues to be the most difficult thing for me, so I was excited to see so much good info in the book.

If you are interested in learning more about her book, it is available on Amazon.

Enter To Win A Free Copy Of The Book!

Lindsay and her publisher BenBella Books have been gracious enough to provide two copies of her book to our community, and you can enter to win!

We’ll be randomly selecting two recipients (see entry details below) and notifying the winners on Saturday, June 27th.

UPDATE: The give away has now ended. Congratulations to Stacy and Casey!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Sign up for the email list using the form below. If you are already subscribed, you do NOT have to subscribe again.
  2. Leave a comment below letting us know the following: Do you (or did you) struggle with the learning curve of healthy eating? What is the most overwhelming part of getting started? Give an example and be specific.

*Note: Only open to residents of the US and Canada

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I dream of the day when you can pop into a 7-11 and grab a green juice and a bag of kale chips.

But until then, making progress towards our health and weight loss goals while on the road takes a bit of planning, flexibility and ingenuity.

I cut my teeth on the subject in the most ridiculous way possible.

Imagine this: You’ve just gone plant-based, your best friend (also named Matt) calls you up — he’s engaged! And there is going to be a bachelor party! And the bachelor party happens to be a 5-day party/rafting trip with 8 other guys!

For me, this was a challenge akin to when I strapped on skis for the first time at an aerial ski jumping camp.


Photo credit: David Morris

Needless to say, I spent a good two weeks figuring out what I was going to take to eat on the trip. And what did I end up eating? Probably close to my body weight in avocados, hummus, and almond butter.

And the great thing was that I had a blast! I didn’t miss out on this important event, and I had the time of my life with some of my best friends.


I’m not sure why we decided to run around throwing bocci balls into the air during our rafting trip…but it was awesome!

A couple weeks back Regan and I finished a 5-day trip of our own — a move across the country from Arizona to Washington DC.

Road trips are a bit easier than some of the other travel challenges, and I was amazed how little effort it took to stay plant-based on the road.

So today, we thought we’d pull back the kimono and share our best tips and tricks of how we eat like plant strong foodies on the road.

This is just our take, and I’m sure you have tips and tricks of your own. Share your best travel strategies in the comments!

Air Travel

There is one golden rule to healthy air travel: Take your own food — the more hydrating (ie salad, cucumbers, veggies, sprouts) the better.

I don’t know why it took us so long to realize this, but you can prepare a meal in advance, put it in a tupperware and take it on the plane!

We usually will put together a big salad or stop by the hot bar at whole foods before heading to the airport.

In addition to one pre-made meal, we also take some snacks along with us.

Our favorites are:

  • Bag of baby spinach
  • Cut up celery sticks
  • A whole cucumber or two
  • Mary’s crackers
  • Ezekiel tortillas
  • Container of hummus
  • Single serving packets of nut butter (almond butter or cashew butter) to spread on cucumber or crackers
  • Avocados

Other things we sometimes take:

For example, we’ll often find a standard mexican restaurant or burrito bar and order a couple sides of guacamole and pico de gallo. These sides make great dips for Mary’s crackers, or we add them to a tortilla along with our spinach and volia — filling and delish veggie wrap!

Another good option is to order a bare bones salad anywhere you can find one and supersize it with the addition of avocado, hemp seeds and hummus.

Finally, it’s important to understand that decisions, stress, difficult social interactions and walking past restaurants when hungry all place a strain on your willpower, and this strain is cumulative!

That’s why I like to make sure we have enough food to not feel deprived, with the addition of a special treat.

Make sure you are well prepped with the right food in situations where you are likely to be stressed. Filling up on the right food makes it much more likely that you won’t stray.

We pack all our snacks in a canvas grocery bag that we take on the plane in addition to our regular carry-ons, and we have never been hassled about the extra bag.

Road Trip


Green juice on the road!

For us, the cooler bag is the rosetta stone of the perfect plant-strong road trip. It allows you to go where you will and still eat like you are just a few minutes from your favorite Whole Foods.

Oh, and the cooler bag can also substitute for a fridge if you are staying at a hotel that doesn’t have one.

We stock ours with the essentials and use the Chipotle Method to put together most of our meals.

In our cooler bag goes:

  • Ezekiel tortillas
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Bell Peppers
  • Sprouts (if we can find good ones)
  • Mixed greens (pre-washed)
  • Avocados
  • Hummus (and lots of it)
  • Salsa
  • Babaganoush
  • Mary’s crackers

Optional snacks/treats are:

  • Larabars
  • Lydia’s cacao crunch bars
  • Hail Merry miracle tarts
  • Coconut water
  • Kevita coconut kefir or kombucha

We stopped for dinner at a rest stop in Arkansas and decided to make a little video to show you how we make a typical meal on the road.

If you liked this video, subscribe to our youtube channel.

We are almost certainly more food obsessed than the average traveler, so we go out of our way to plan ahead and check out appealing restaurants along the way.
When eating out, we use the same strategy of thinking ahead and seeing what we can buy to bolster future meals.

For example, at the Whole Foods in Memphis we couldn’t figure out what we wanted to eat for lunch. Finally we purchased a few different items from the cold bar and ended up with potatoes, quinoa, broccoli, seasoned kale salad and hummus.


Our cold bar lunch at the Whole Foods in Memphis

We then used the leftovers of these items over the next couple days to add to wraps, salads and just to have around for snacks.


Broccoli and hummus for a snack


Though we have a long way to go, there are more veg friendly options and restaurants than ever before.

We use yelp and to find accommodating restaurants along our route.

Chipotle is a good alternative of ours when nothing else is available. It is a national chain with relatively fresh ingredients, works well both for the veg heads and omnivores and can be found in most moderately sized cities.

In addition, we’ve found that the following kinds of restaurants tend to have available or easily adaptable options for us.

  • Indian
  • Ethiopian
  • Thai
  • Mexican
  • Lebanese
  • Steakhouses (they usually have great veggie sides)

One of our little secrets is to look for Hari Krishna temples with restaurants. They usually offer healthier than the norm indian cuisine with lots of delicious options, are inexpensive and have super fresh ingredients and a fun atmosphere.

We stayed with our dear friends Phebe and Mac in Dallas, and they treated us to an amazing meal at Kalachandjis, by far the best Hari Krishna restaurant we’ve ever been too. Thanks guys!


This is my kind of meal


Lunch with Phebe and Mac

Regan and I are super fortunate to share the same dietary preferences, and we know that not everyone has this luxury.

Especially when traveling for business or with family that doesn’t share your values, it can take a lot more compromise and duct taping things together to make it work.

When I’m out with others, I never like to dictate the choice of restaurant based on my preferences. I might make a recommendation or two (making sure there are good options for everyone) and then let everyone else decide what they want.

Last month, I attended an organic farming conference in Wisconsin for work, and ended up going out to eat at a steakhouse with a group of organic seed producers.

I didn’t want to make a fuss, so once we arrived at the restaurant I slipped away and talked to the server privately. I asked if she had any vegan options or suggestions of what I could eat.

She gave me a couple good recommendations, and I was able to enjoy a fantastic meal without creating any social awkwardness.

Nine times out of ten I’m able to make a meal at almost any restaurant work. Sometimes though, there just really aren’t any options. Or they are extremely limited.

For these cases, I will usually carry with me my trusted salad expansion pack. I’ll take with me an avocado or two along with some hummus. I might also bring my own salad dressing, olives, crackers, pumpkin seeds, or anything else to add a little zing to a meal.

I’ll then order as many house salads or side salads as necessary to get a decently sized meal and add my ingredients to it.

Is it awkward to be sit down to dinner with friends, family or complete strangers, slyly reach into your jacket, pull out an avocado and/or hummus and/or olives and start adding them to your salad?

Not if you do it with a smile and a wink!

But yes, it might put you out of your comfort zone. Be confident. Smile. Delight in how funny it is to be the one pulling condiments out our pockets and everyone else will think it’s funny too.

I sent this to my Mom to proofread and she mentioned that family is usually happy and relieved that you have something to eat!

This process is all about learning how to dance. We are always becoming more adept at staying true to our health and values while ensuring that we can still participate in the fullness of life.

Traveling and social situations can be a big barrier, but they don’t have to be. And I promise over time you’ll develop your own methods for making things work.

Now, I wouldn’t think twice about what I was going to eat if I was heading out on a five day rafting trip with my best friends.

Just keep at it!

Have a funny travel story or addition tips to share? Let us know in the comments. We’ll read every one.

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Photo Credit: Stacy Spensley

Food is an integral part of social life.

I have such fond memories of the stew that my Mom would cook for every birthday, of the local burger joint that we used to go to on the last day of school, of leaving campus at lunch with my best friends to grab lunch at Taco Time.

And then there are the holidays.

I’ll never forget driving down to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas. We would open presents and then sit down for the traditional meal of ham and Grandma’s famous (and very weird in retrospect) green jello.

Who doesn’t equate those beautiful, serene, and happy holiday moments with the smells wafting from the kitchen or sitting down with loved ones around an abundant table?

Every single one of my most cherished memories has a dish, diner, smell or taste associated with it.

Can you relate?

On top of personal holiday memories, we often have family traditions that go back generations. Our very heritage and deepest identity is tied into the foods that we eat.

And these feelings run deep.

So when we make the decision to take our health destiny into our own hands and start living the veggie-centric life, we have to make our way through some treacherous territory.

The everyday challenges we all face pale in comparison to the holidays — when family dynamics, old memories, travel, and stress all come together to create the perfect storm.

It’s hard enough to separate the memories from the food, and stay on plan when faced with so much temptation.

And then there is the real difficulty is taking our personal decision to change our diet into a the public arena.

Best case scenario, you stand out like a sore thumb and feel awkward turning down dishes and explaining the decisions you’ve made to wonderfully supportive family and friends.

Worst case scenario, your mother-in-law, dear ol’ Dad, or obstinate uncle take your decision as a personal affront.

They decide to spend the entire holiday making vegan jokes, loudly worrying about your looming protein deficiency, feeling sorry that you can only eat rabbit food, and trying to get you to have “just one bite” of the Turducken.

If you run into this issue, you might want to take a look at the article I wrote about how to talk to others about your plant-based lifestyle.

My First Plant-Based Thanksgiving


Photo Credit: Liz West

I first went plant-based around June of 2009, and I was pretty set on my new lifestyle when Thanksgiving rolled around.

But I sure didn’t have a clue how to travel, talk about what I was doing, or prepare any semblance of a holiday themed plant-based meal.

I spent a ton of money buying and preparing food that I could take with me to North Carolina to visit my Mom.

And while I was committed, it didn’t mean that I didn’t have any cravings for my old ways.

Did some part of me want to be chowing down on turkey and stuffing, laughing with everyone around the table and falling into the post-meal food coma?

Of course!

Instead I sat in the middle of the table, eating my wimpy salad, and defensively attempting to sound like I knew what I was talking about, answering questions about protein, enzymes, heart disease statistics and so on.

Luckily, I happen to have a very supportive and understanding family. They are always there for me even in the midst of my craziest adventures.

But I was so protective of my baby lifestyle, that I even turned down the baked yam that my Mom made for me — her super sweet gesture of support and acceptance.

So continues my proclivity for making things more difficult than need be.

But I survived. In fact, I even remember enjoying myself. But it certainly wasn’t the old relaxing Thanksgiving that I used to enjoy.

And with each passing year the holidays have gotten easier and easier.

My family now knows what to expect, that this is part of who I am, and they know that I’m not judging their choices.

We are just happy to be in each other’s company, and we don’t let our differences get in the way of that.

I’ve found the more that I can take a relaxed and joyful attitude, do everything that I can to participate and share my lifestyle without being evangelical, and let everyone how happy I am just to be there, the more things go smoothly.

In fact, I asked my mom proofread this article, and she made a very interesting comment.

I don’t think either side knows the best way to extend and accept the changes that a new lifestyle brings, so they try to cover it up with jokes and too many not helpful offers that can get annoying and make the plant-based eater defensive.

One of the parts I thought was particularly significant to emphasize is the part about your own “relaxed and  joyful attitude”, because it appears to have the potential to be a landmine kind of experience, but really people just want to be sure you are fed and cared for (of course this is a mom speaking).

Confidence carries a lot off.  I think it would be really helpful to let people know how hard the holidays are and will be and that you’d love to be eating that stuffing and mysterious green jello concoction, but you are committed to this lifestyle.

Along with confidence, not taking ourselves too seriously, and a little vulnerability goes a long way.

Difficult social interactions will happen. Learn to laugh at them, and keep the focus on what is most important — having a good time with the people that you love.

A Little Prep Goes A Long Way


Photo Credit: Faith Goble

If you are getting ready for a Thanksgiving away you might be wondering if there will be anything for you to eat. What is the proper protocol? Do you bring your own food?

If you are hosting others, what will they be expecting? Is it your duty to cook up a turkey even if you won’t be eating any?

What about the temptation of Grandma’s famous stuffing? Do you indulge once a year? Make a plant-based substitute?

You used to impress everyone with your famous pumpkin pie, what if they hate the plant-based version?

Is it even worth it? Should you just go along with the crowd and get back on track once the holidays are over?

Fortunately, as our plant-based whole foods community has grown, so have the resources available for us choosing to celebrate both the holidays and our health.

There are delectable Thanksgiving recipes, travel tips, ideas on what to bring to a Thanksgiving gathering, and even how to host your own.

Today, Regan and I want to showcase some of the best resources out there, so that you can have the best Thanksgiving possible.

After all this is important!

As I’m oh so fond of reminding you, the lifestyle works, but for the lifestyle to work you have to stick with it.

And for it to be sustainable it has to be easy, it has to be joyful, it has to be abundant. It is very possible to thrive not just physically, but emotionally, and socially.

So take a few moments and invest in yourself. Read a few of these fantastic articles and plan how to navigate the challenges presented by the upcoming turkey centered holiday.

How can you make it easier on yourself?

We wish you a very happy plant-based Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and loved ones. We’re hoping it’s the best one yet.

The Ultimate Plant-Based Thanksgiving Resource Roundup

Chapter 1: No Fail Thanksgiving Recipes

Chapter 2: Tips for Hosting or Dining With Others

Chapter 3: Getting To Your Destination: How to Travel on a Plant-Based Diet

Chapter 4: Overcoming Temptation and Staying On Track

PS: Are you worried about the holidays? Leave a comment and let us know what your biggest concern is. We’ll read every single one.

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